by Lisa McGrimmon
Knowing how to sell your art with time-tested communication and self promotion strategies will make it easier to talk to customers and make the sale.
People make decisions about you and your work very quickly. You have, at best, about thirty seconds to make a good first impression on a customer, and some studies show you have even less time than that. A prepared 30 second pitch that summarizes, promotes and invites further interest in your work will help you to overcome nervousness, speak convincingly and feel comfortable that you know how to sell your art and talk to customers.
Some people will tell you that a 30 second pitch is passé, and that savvy customers recognize a pitch when they hear one. To some extent, I agree with this idea. In my opinion, ideally you would know how to interact with customers comfortably and naturally to build rapport and point out the benefits of and story behind your work.
However, people who appear to naturally know how to talk to customers are just incorporating the 30 second pitch techniques described in this article (and more) into their conversations. They've just had so much practice at it, they seem extremely natural.
So, if you are not yet a expert in knowing how to sell your art by quickly building rapport, developing, practicing and using these techniques will get you to a point where all of this does seem very natural and not like a technique.
Take the time to work out short, effective answers to the following questions and you will be on your way to a 30 second pitch that sells. Remember, your summary must be focused on the customer's needs, not yours, so have a specific type of customer in mind while you write your summary.
Here is a sample 30 second pitch for the owner of a custom digital scrapbooking company. She has just met a busy mom of three young kids who is considering using her services.
What is my product or service?
"I create customized digital scrapbooks."
What problem do I solve?
"Digital photos contain precious memories that aren't fully enjoyed because people live busy lives and dont have the time to organize and artfully present their photos."
How am I different?
"Every scrapbook is truly unique. We will work closely with you to understand your values and sense of style to ensure your scrapbook is original, deeply personal and meaningful."
Why should you be interested?
"If you don't have time to manage your digital photos, we do. We will create the beautiful, personal presentation that your most cherished memories deserve."
Some people avoid practicing how to talk to customers or preparing this type of summary because it takes some serious thought, and it can be extremely difficult for some people to talk about themselves. They feel as if they are bragging or they don't feel confident in what they are saying. Others don't prepare because they are concerned that a prepared response will sound unnatural, phoney or over-practiced.
If you're uncomfortable talking about yourself, I would suggest that you just have to do it. Knowing how to sell your art doesn't just come naturally to most people; it takes practice. Work out your 30 second pitch and say it to as many people as possible. Try starting with supportive friends and family and work up to saying it to less familiar people. The more you practice loud, the more your summary will feel natural to say, and the more you will believe that your work is as fabulous as you say it is.
If you think you'll sound unnatural if you practice a summary, again, you just have to try it a few times and watch the response. There's really no getting around it. If you want to be confident that you know how to sell your art and connect with customers, you'll need to practice.
In practicing how to sell your art by building rapport, you don't have to memorize a summary word for word. To keep it sounding natural, don't memorize a script, just remember the key points that you want to get across and the rest of the words will fill in naturally. Again, this is much easier if you practice a few times before you try it on actual customers.
1. Keep it brief.
You should be able to say it in about 30 seconds.
2. Be specific about what is special about your work.
Notice that answering the question "How am I different?" indicates why customers should choose you over your competition. Often for artists, what is special about your work is the way it connects in a personal way to the customer, so talking about the meaning and story behind your art can be a subtle but effective way to highlight benefits to the customer.
3. Keep it relevant.
You don't have long to capture your customer's attention. Don't waste time on comments that are not helpful in promoting your work.
4. Keep it customer focused.
Think about the needs of the customers you are meeting with and their motivation in buying your work. How does your work benefit your customers? Their motivation may not necessarily be what you think is exciting about your work.
For example, under "What problem do I solve?" the owner of company in the example above could have noted that the most photo active households are typically women and families with young children who don't have time to organize their photos. Sharing that information with the customer in this example would not be helpful. There's no need to tell her she takes a lot of pictures and doesn't have time to organize them. She already knows that about herself! This kind of information would be better placed in a pitch to a potential business partner who needs to know why the business will succeed.
5. Don't try to say everything in your opening summary.
If you capture their attention in the first thirty seconds, you'll be able to say more later. The sample summary does not highlight the service's additional benefits of easily sharing the digital scrapbook with friends and family or ensuring digital photos are properly backed up and, therefore, protected in the event of a computer crash. That's too much information in the first thirty seconds. Those benefits can be discussed as you continue to talk with your customer.
6. Make it your own.
The language and tone of your summary can vary a lot depending on your own personality and the needs of the customer you are trying to inspire. Your tone could be formal, friendly, offbeat or casual. When you decide on the tone of your summary, think of the customer. You may be more casual with your neighbor and more formal with a potential business partner.
Also, think of your own personal style and the image of your business when deciding on the tone of your summary. Don't try to fit yourself into a summary that doesn't feel like you. If a formal tone is not you, try something more offbeat or casual. Although it's fine to look at examples for inspiration, avoid using language that doesn't feel like your own. You'll never feel comfortable with that type of summary, and when you say it, it will come across as being insincere.
It's important to practice saying your summary out loud. Something that looks great in writing can feel very different when said out loud. Practice saying your summary several times. If you're feeling unsure of yourself, ask your family and friends for feedback, and adjust the summary if you need to. The more you practice the summary the more easily you will deliver it with confidence and conviction.
Remember I said your summary must be focused on your customer's needs? This is a really important point that shouldn't be forgotten. No matter what kind of product or service you have, you likely have several types of customers with different needs. Think about how to sell your art to customers such as:
This kind of varied practice will go a long way to ensuring your pitch sounds natural and you feel confident that you know how to sell your art to a variety of customers.
Once you've finished your first 30 second pitch, take the time to think through your various types of customers and write summaries for those customers. It might sound like a lot of work, but keep in mind, you won't have to completely change the first summary you wrote, just adjust it slightly to address each specific customer's needs. Also, the more you do this, the faster and more easily it will come to you.
The time and effort you spend developing your 30 second pitch will be well rewarded. You'll be confident that you know how to sell your art by building rapport with customers, and ready to effectively promote your business to anyone who comes your way.
How to Sell Your Art With Better Communication